Monday, May 29, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 22 - Offa Rex - The Queen Of Hearts

One of the things about doing this [writing a blog] is that it pretty much forces me to listen, read and then actually think about music. I can't really assimilate so-called background music anymore. If it's there than that is how it is, but I'll be either paying proper attention or simply not consciously noticing it at all. Sub-conscious listening is however very much a real 'thing'. I was doing chores at home this morning whilst I had the latest Spotify 'Discover Weekly' playlist playing from the stereo but until this came on I couldn't, had it been a crime scene, have given you a single useful piece of evidence to show that I had paying any attention to what was going on.
Had my head been inside a scanner that measures synapse connections I suspect that the images would have been quite interesting. It was, as subsequent investigations have shown, a song I have never heard before but the apparent jumble of concepts that my mind spewed out in response, much like the coins from a change machine, was surprisingly accurate.

What triggered all that, and it is also the title of the forthcoming LP, is this song:

Offa Rex is a project that sees UK singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Olivia Chaney transported to the Pacific Northwest to weave tradition from British and Celtic folk into a psych-folk influenced tapestry. The rest of Offa Rex will be familiar to many as the Decemberists. The album was recorded and produced by Tucker Martine at his studio in Portland, OR. The majority of the eleven tracks were arranged by Olivia Chaney

Offa Rex - The Queen of Hearts, (Nonesuch Records, 14 July 2017).

Offa Rex - The Queen of Hearts:
  • The Queen of Hearts
  • Blackleg Miner
  • The Gardener
  • The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
  • Flash Company
  • The Old Churchyard
  • Constant Billy (Oddington) / I'll Go Enlist (Sherborne)
  • Willie o' Winsbury
  • Bonny May
  • Sheepcrook and Black Dog
  • To Make You Stay
To hear this in its entirety is something I am looking forward to very much indeed.  It is another journey in the story of how, for centuries, songs have travelled back and forth across the Atlantic to be reappraised and then returned.
A fine example is Willie o' Winsbury that is from Scottish tradition and probably of late 17th century origin. It is also Child #100 and has been back and forth a few times since. A version also appears on the LP Child Ballads - Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer (2013).

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